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Visualizing My Interdisciplinary Field (Part 2)

Visualizing My Interdisciplinary Field (Part 2)

In my last post, I looked at visualizing my field on a Google map. This time I'd like to share some visualizations based on publication years and citations of the scholars working in my area. The first one is a simple Excel spreadsheet and chart, while the second is slightly more complex. 

One of the elements we researched for class was the top five publications, projects, or grants for each scholar. I used Google Scholar to pull most of this information, aware that it might not be 100% accurate but confident that it should at least give a decent picture. 

My first step was to simply create a quick tally of how many of each of the top five publications took place in each year:

Then, using that data, I created a quick scatter chart:

One of the things that immediately stood out with this visualization was a definite upward trend, which wasn't necessarily intuitive. One might assume that there was actually a bias toward early publications as they would have had a longer time period to accumulate citations. This could potentially mean a few different things: 1) The field itself is becoming more popular, or 2) the people working in and around the field are younger scholars who have only been publishing recently. Looking over the people I've selected, my best guess is that both of these likely play a factor in this trend. 

Next, I wanted to try a visualization that also included some information about the number of citations. For this, I moved to a slightly more complex tool, the web-based RAW application.  

I created a slightly different spreadsheet, containing each scholar's name, the name of their most cited piece, the number of citations and the year it was published. I didn't end up using the actual citation name for this particular visualization, but it may be useful to have it there for the future. 

After that, RAW walks you through the steps of creating a variety of visualizations. Here's how I set mine up. 

1. Paste data into RAW:

2. Select the type of visualization. I picked Alluvial Diagram:

3. Choose the dimensions to map. I selected name and year for my steps wtih the number of citations as the size:

4. Then I sorted by name, which put them in order by year and last name of author. That's it! The visualization is created:


This includes all 30 of the scholars I researched. A few things immediately stand out. 2004 and 2013 were big years for the publication of heavily cited work. It's also much easier to visualize the number of citations based on the thickness of the line. It would be interesting, though much more visually chaotic, to add all of the top five publication for each scholar. Additionally, this helps me think about foundational works for the fields, and then conversations that are taking place around those. 

While I don't necessarily have any conclusions to draw from this exercise, it's been interesting and worthwhile to see my field in this way, and I think, helping me better understand where I hope to see myself contributing. 

Any other ideas for what one could do with data like these?


1 comment

Hi J.J.

I think this is an awesome project! I am working on something similar using the content that already exists on the online, collaborative site InMediaRes. I look forward to hearing more about how you can make these visualizations a tool for younger scholars.